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does it ever end?

by + Alan on September 8th, 2013

Parenting – that’s what I’m talking about. I know there’s this common American mindset about raising children. You hear it in movies, on TV, from people here and there. “Get ‘em to 18 and then get ‘em ‘outa the house.” Is that really how it is? Is that your idea of parenting, if you’re a parent? They click over to 18 years old and you just turn the parent button off? Is that how it works?

My guess is that you don’t believe that, and neither do I. There is no switch, at least I haven’t found one. And if I have one, I don’t know how to turn it off. Haven’t figured that one out yet. It’s a problem – it can be – it is for me.

Parenting isn’t really appreciated by the 18+ year old American person (God forbid I say “child.”) Did you need parenting when you were 18? I certainly didn’t… think I needed it. It’s a very difficult transition – childhood to adulthood – Oh, not for the “child,” you thought I meant for them, ha! No, no – not easy for US! It’s torturous for parents to go through raising/watching/seeing their children transition from being children, to being adolescents, and on to adulthood. Torturous.

Of course, as with everything, I speak from my own experience. What else can I do? This has been a very difficult transition for me – one which I am still moving through. My oldest “child” is now 24 – then there’s 22, 19, and finally 17 (soon to be, gulp, 18). What do I do with them? (that was mostly rhetorical) And that’s a complicated question. They all still live at home, by the way, which adds a level of difficulty to the question in my mind. And for the record, I like having them still living here – not trying to kick them out. It’s just hard, I’m saying, to transition from interacting with your children as children, to interacting with them as, well, something akin to adults. I can’t see how anyone who is a parent wouldn’t get how that’s just hard.

What’s more:  I am the protective one (some might say “overly” – whatever), the worrier, the one who has a nearly impossible time going to sleep unless I know they’re all home safely – that’s me. Don’t preach at me about this – seriously. This all makes me “job” of figuring out how to deal with, talk to, not talk to, etc., my, my whatever they are, very difficult. I think I’ve said that already.

Best I can guess, at this point, is that it sort of doesn’t really ever end – the parenting thing. There’s always a sense in which you’re still their parents. I’m still going to be their Father, their Dad, even when they’re 57. Something about the nature of that can never change. There are obviously changes in the way in which that role plays out. At some point, you have to find a way to parent, not necessarily less, but differently as time goes along, as your children grow up.

I, for one, have not figured that out. I’m also this one:  the one who has a very, very had time “letting go.” I’m not even sure what “letting go” is supposed to mean. “If you love someone, set them free” – OOOK Sting, whatever that’s all about. So, before this turns into a chapter in the book I’m not writing, I’ll sort of wrap it up by saying, it’s hard, OK – just hard.

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4 Comments
  1. Dana Ames permalink

    I know :)

    D.

  2. Thanks, Dana. :) And I WILL get your beads done before Christmas or Easter or something – sorry. :|

  3. Dana Ames permalink

    Yes, it is hard. You keep on loving (and doing all that implies, like asking forgiveness).

    And negotiating, even when that’s not overt. It’s still, and always, relationships.

    And yes, you will always be their parent, no matter how old they are.

    <>

    Dana

  4. Bob permalink

    I think the thing to keep in mind (and something a lot of parents don’t realize) is that you are raising ADULTS not children. The goal is to raise them in such a way that they are ready to “fly from the nest” not because they have been kicked out but because they have the curiosity that drives them to discover the world for themselves.

    At that point you know you’ve given them the decision-making skills to be successful.

    Certainly, they will always return to Mom and Dad but the relationship has changed. As it should be.

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